Based on a quote by Ira Glass, Still Life is a 12-minute short about a young photographer who finds it hard to take constructive criticism from his peers. Review after the jump.
Martin (Timothy Bonavita) is an aspiring photographer looking to inspire people with the images he takes. Whilst his pictures look nice, he finds his tutor and other members of the groups he attends criticise some of the angles he has used, which in turn makes Martin depressed.
Still Life, which was written, directed and produced by Chris Esper, is a nice little short film with a deeper meaning to it than most. Anybody with a creative mind like that of Martin’s will relate to the material. We have been there before, where you fight and work hard to improve yourself, and you find it hard to take advice from others – believing that you know better than the people around you offering their words of wisdom. This then leads to questioning yourself if you really are good enough to make an impact.
One thing that really stands out about Still Life is the cinematography; the imagery is striking and works well with the use of black and white. It is reminiscent of how well it was used in recent films Nebraska and Frances Ha. We do get a colour flashback of Martin as a child, taking photographs with a Polaroid camera and it works well in contrast to the rest of the film. The colourist did a fantastic job to capture the scene well.
Whilst the acting is mostly acceptable, one gripe I did have was with the sound. There are a lot of disjointed cuts in the sound design and it felt like an in-camera mic was used for many scenes. This is a bit of a shame as such nice imagery deserves equally good sound. Therefore the cinematography stands out even more. Not all the sound was poor though, the piano score suited the overall mood to a nice effect.
Chris did a great job with Still Life and I would like to see a feature length version, where Martin struggles with his photography, inspiration and love life. If Chris can come up with something along those lines and he keeps the overall look of Still Life, I’ll pay for a ticket in advance.
Still Life is a nice short film that focuses on a young man learning to cope with constructive criticism. Whilst the sound design isn’t great, the overall look of the film and the story more than makes up for it.